I think that strawberries may be my very first fruit memory. I've always loved berries of all sorts, but strawberries seem to be one of my oldest childhood memories. Snippets from here and there. I remember going to small farms where you could go and pick your own. I remember that you could always tell my father's picks versus my brother's and mine because my dad insisted you had to keep the stem cap on the berry or all the flavor would escape the berry. Strangely, that's true. His berries were always sweeter than the ones we had picked, missing their caps.
And I suppose it's because I grew up in the Middle East that I have this love of rose flavoring in food, especially sweets. My favorite pairing has always been with berries and/or cream. Even better, the three together! But this year I decided to put it in some strawberry jam. The results? Fabulous! The best jam yet!
I buy my rose water from the Middle Eastern stores throughout town. My favorite is the one at 1547 Fulton Ave. A bottle is only about $3 and lasts a long time because you only use a little bit. They also, by the way, get Arab bread delivered daily. There is nothing better than fresh pita/Arab bread. I can't stand the stuff sold at regular grocery stores that is stale like cardboard.
I should mention that I've been having mixed results with jam making when it comes to getting it to the right thickness and using pectin. A friend of mine has been coaching me with from Kansas. Sue's been canning for years and she never uses packaged pectin. She's the one who is encouraging me to use more apple to get the pectin I need since apples have the highest amount of natural pectin.
Strawberry Rose Jam
3 pint baskets of fresh strawberries
5 cups of sugar
1 t of fresh lemon juice
2 green apples
3-4 t of rose water
Clean, destem, and cut the strawberries. Core the apples and set the cores aside. Mince the rest of the apple. Add the berries, apple, core, lemon juice, and the sugar in a medium saucepan and cook on medium until it comes to a soft roll. Cook for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat. Remove apple cores. Stir in the rose water according to taste. Immediately scoop into sterilized jars, cap and cool.